There seems to be lots of debates all over the net regarding flags. In particular the stars and bars of the Confederate States of America. My input requires me to start from the beginning. My beginning.
I was born in 1963 in a Midwestern state. A time when segregation and racial civil unrest was still going strong. When they still had whites only and negro only sections. John F. Kennedy was still in office. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X were still alive. Coca-Cola invented its first diet drink, TaB. Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped from Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe. The Vietnam war was in its second year. Pro Football Hall of Fame opens. Bible reading in public schools is rendered unconstitutional. Dr No, the first James Bond 007 film premiers.
I knew about none of these things. I was a baby. My dad soon after graduating from college got what turned out to be a life long job with IBM. Prior employees know this to stand for “I’ve Been Moved.” True to its name we became a family on the move. About every 5 years or so we moved to a different Midwestern state.
I believe my dad did his research prior to our moving. (Remember. This is all pre internet.) We moved to neighborhoods that had what was considered good schools. Basic math, sciences, history and the like. This would have been during the late 60’s early to mid 70’s.
These schools did not teach us about anything in regards to race relations. To this day I do not recall ever being taught about 1800’s America. For the longest time I thought we all came over on the Mayflower together because that’s what our teachers taught us. I realize this sounds very ignorant and stupid of me but I had no other sources at the time and I didn’t see people in colors so shut the hell up.
Where was I? Oh yeah. I learned in school about WW2. They did not teach us about the holocaust or the evils or war. I was in love with the Nazi flag. The simple red background with the circle of white and the crooked cross inside. I thought it was neat. Something my dad and I had in common was WW2 documentaries. It was through this medium that I had learned the real meaning of this flag. What a horrible nasty part of human history!! Needless to say I no longer think this flag is neat cool or otherwise. The swastika itself is not a sign of evil. It’s actually a sign of peace in several other religious backgrounds. But this flag stands for a very bad nasty part of our history. There is a very good reason why it’s outlawed in Europe. I still see it in video games. But I would never ever buy and fly. Not even in the privacy of my home. Because to me it would mean I’m representing it and what it stands for.
I remember Mr Bear’s African-American class in jr high school. That was probably one of my first enlightened moments into black history. Movies such as Roots and Malcolm X (“We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us!) helped me to have a better understanding of what black Americans went through back in that time. Needless to say I had continued my education from there.
I felt the same way about the stars and bars. I loved the look of it. Until I educated myself with its meaning. I know some people say it’s just a flag. But to lots of us it’s a symbol of an ugly hateful scary shameful time in our American history. There are people even today who are still spreading hatred and loathing of people who are not like them and they use this flag to represent this. People even TODAY are still being secretly lynched or dragged behind pickup trucks until their heads pop off or hunted or lord knows what other atrocities that we don’t even know about. All in the name of I’m better than you. This, to me is what the stars and bars represents today.
Thank you for your time.